China is prepared to send the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) onto the streets of Hong Kong to clear the “violent” protests and prevent the chaos of Ukraine or Thailand, the official Global Times newspaper reported.
Global Times is published by the People’s Daily and well-known for expressing hardline and nationalist views.
One of the main missions of the PAP, which was formally established in June 1982, is to suppress internal protest in China. Its members also guard government buildings and foreign embassies, protect leaders, patrol the frontiers and have a major role in fighting terrorism.
They are heavily armed and carry weapons including machine guns and number 1.1 million. They follow the rules and regulations of the PLA and its members enjoy the same treatment as PLA soldiers.
They are used on a daily basis in the mainland to deal with the hundreds of cases of mass public protests, especially over confiscation of land and property, environmental degradation and corruption by officials.
The newspaper published an article by Wang Qiang, a deputy professor at the PAP Political College, with the headline “There is no legal obstacle to the use of the PAP to protect Hong Kong’s security”.
He said that under the pretext of “fighting for democracy”, the protesters were conspiring with foreign anti-China forces to harm the basic interests of the nation, “something no government could tolerate”.
Many countries, in accordance with the law, used increasing forms of power to interfere, in line with the seriousness of the situation and employ paramilitary forces to support the police, he said.
Under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong government has the authority to protect social stability in the SAR; “but, if the situation changes and the PAP can be called in in accordance with the security policy of the SAR government, there is no legal obstacle to this.
“According to the PAP law of the PRC, its use in Hong Kong to protect security in putting an end to chaos and restoring social stability would be reasonable and legal,” he said.
In a commentary, the newspaper said that the stability of Hong Kong was facing unprecedented danger and that this could not be allowed.
“The China of today is not the China of 25 years ago. The country is not only stronger but more mature … In recent years, there have been very serious mass incidents. But not one of them has disrupted the ideology of the Chinese society,” it said.
This is a reference to the student-led protests of 1989, when China did not have security forces trained to deal with mass civil protest; that was why the government resorted to the army.
Since then, the PAP has become a force highly trained to control this kind of protest; it is rich in experience.
“We will not allow a situation to develop such as that in Thailand or Ukraine, we are very confident of this,” the commentary said.
“The extremist opponents know very well that the National People’s Conference will not change its decision [on the 2017 election] and they are using slogans to trick people to take part … Some of the street campaigners are creating tragedies to draw in more and more people and finally create a revolution. But Hong Kong is not a country and does not have the basic conditions for a ‘coloured revolution’. So this movement cannot surpass its limits.”
Commentaries like this will cause increased anxiety in Hong Kong. Since 1997, the PAP has never been seen on the streets of the SAR. It is not known if there are PAP units among the People’s Liberation Army garrison here. Even if there are not, it would be logistically simple to bring them from Shenzhen.
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